Ischemia : is any reduction in blood flow resulting in decreased oxygen and nutrient supplies to a tissue. Ischemia may be reversible, in which case the affected tissue will recover if blood flow is restored, or it may be irreversible, resulting in tissue death. Ischemia can also be acute, due to a sudden reduction in blood flow, or chronic, due to slowly decreasing blood flow.
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Ischemia? Join the Discussion
Ischemia can occur anywhere in the body. Heart attacks and strokes can both result from ischemia. Although less well known, ischemia can also affect the intestines, resulting in abdominal pain, bloody stool, and even intestinal rupture or gangrene. Peripheral ischemia can lead to loss of fingers or toes or the need for limb amputation.
Pain is a common symptom associated with ischemia, but does not always occur. Brain ischemia can cause cognitive, sensory or motor problems. Heart attacks and intestinal ischemia can cause nausea and vomiting. Peripheral ischemia can cause pallor, bluish discoloration, or darkening of the skin of the nose, ears, fingers, toes, or other surface areas.
Risk factors for ischemia include vascular diseases, such as arteriosclerosis (hardening of the arteries), trauma, high blood pressure, heart problems, diabetes (chronic disease that affects your body’s ability to use sugar for energy), tobacco use, high cholesterol, physical inactivity, stress, family history of ischemic diseases, and increasing age. Treatment of ischemia depends on the cause, but generally is aimed at restoring blood flow and reducing further tissue injury and death.